Democratic governors focus on congressional redistricting

AP News
Posted: Aug 04, 2015 6:27 PM

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Democratic Governors Association is looking to give its members a greater say in drawing congressional boundaries during the 2020 redistricting process.

The group announced Tuesday that Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and EMILY's List President Stephanie Schriock would lead fundraising and other efforts in a new initiative aimed at helping Democrats in 18 targeted states.

McAuliffe, a major fundraiser who is close friends with Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton, said the initiative "is about ensuring more Democratic governors can be at the table in 2020 to prevent the kind of far-right gerrymandering we saw in 2010."

Republicans focused on winning state-level elections in 2010 in order to have greater control in redistricting. The successful effort has helped the GOP maintain a sizeable majority in the U.S. House.

In Virginia, for example, Republicans control eight out of 11 congressional districts, despite the fact that GOP candidates haven't won statewide office since 2009 and President Barack Obama has twice carried the state.

State legislatures are the main drivers on redistricting matters in most states, but governors have a say in 35, according to the association.

"Democratic governors can assure that bad maps don't get passed," said Jared Leopold, a spokesman for the group.

Leopold said the association plans to raise and spend "tens of millions" of dollars on the new initiative, which is being called the 2020 Redistricting Fund.

In addition to preparing for 2020, Democrats have also sued over how the current congressional lines were drawn in several states.

A lawsuit in Virginia has prompted sparring between GOP leaders in the General Assembly and McAuliffe in recent months. Republicans said Tuesday's announcement was a sign of the governor's true motives.

Republicans in Virginia said Tuesday's announcement was a sign of the governor's true motives.

"Redistricting is inherently part of the political process," said state Republican House Speaker William J. Howell's spokesman Matthew Moran, "but the governor is browbeating Republicans on a regular basis and sanctimoniously calling for so-called independent redistricting while leading the charge on national partisan redistricting efforts for Hillary Clinton and the Democrats."

In an emailed statement, Republican Governors Association communications director Jon Thompson said, "Unable to successfully fundraise off of the failed records of Democratic Governors, the DGA and used car salesman Terry McAuliffe are now scraping the bottom of the ideas barrel for ways to appeal to liberal donors."